Surname: Olcott

Olcott Family of Norwich Vermont

Hon. Peter Olcott was born at Bolton, Connecticut, April 25, 1733; married Sarah, daughter of Peletiah Mills, Esq., of Windsor, Conn., October 11, 1759, and removed to that place in 1772. That year or the following one he came to Norwich, Vermont. He was the oldest of his parents’ four children (two sons and two daughters), and the only one of them to come to Norwich to reside. Mr. Olcott‘s name first appears in the town records of Norwich in 1773, when he was chosen one of the overseers of the poor, at the annual March meeting. He early took a leading part in public affairs in his new home. He was elected to the most important town offices, and soon came to be regarded as one of the leading men of the place. It is probable that he was a man of considerable means when he came to Norwich, which, united with his superior talents, gave him a commanding influence in the community. The next year (1774) the annual town meeting was held at his house, and such meetings continued to be so held until 1779, after which they were held at the meeting house, except in severe winter weather. Probably his influence was potent in fixing the location of the first meeting house very near to his residence and upon land which he gave for a site....

Read More

Murdock Family of Norwich Vermont

Hon. Thomas Murdock removed to Norwich from Preston, Connecticut, as early as 1767 (in which year he was recorded a voter in town), and located on the farm a little north of Norwich Plain and subsequently occupied by Jared Goodell, George Blanchard, Harvey Knights, and now by Judd Leonard. He married Elizabeth Hatch (sister of John and Joseph Hatch, early settlers in Norwich), to whom were born: Asahel, Constant, Jasper, Thomas, Jr., Anna, who became the wife of Ebenezer Brown, Esq., the first lawyer to locate in Norwich, and Margaret, who married Elisha Partridge, November 14, 1765. Mr. Murdock was prominent in both state and local matters, the offices held by him being noticed in other chapters of this book. He died Dec. 5, 1803, followed by his wife in 1814. Asahel, the eldest son, was a voter in Norwich as early as 1782. He married Elizabeth Starkweather in 1779, and they became the parents of six children. He returned to Connecticut in 1800. Constant was a voter in Norwich as early as 1784. By his first wife, Sarah Jewett, he had one child, and by his second wife, Lucy Riley, he had eight children. His home was in the fine residence now occupied by Albert Davis, on the hill a little north of Norwich village. He died in Norwich in 1828, aged 67 years. His first wife died...

Read More

Biography of John Hatch, Esq.

The elder of the brothers, John and Joseph Hatch, was born at Preston, Connecticut, June 9, 1727; came to Norwich Vermont in the earliest days of its settlement and founded his home on the hill farm owned and occupied at a later day by Deacon John Dutton. At a proprietors’ meeting at Mansfield, Connecticut, in 1766, Mr. Hatch was elected one of the selectmen of Norwich; at a town meeting at the latter place, held in 1769, he was elected selectman, town clerk and one of a committee of five to lay out highways “where they shall think needful.” He held the office of town clerk continuously until 1780, except for the year 1766, when it was filled by Peter Olcott. Mr. Hatch was a practical surveyor of land, and his services were much in request for that purpose. He made the survey of Norwich into lots in 1766, and laid out in person most of the highways in town during the first twenty-five years after its settlement. In 1778 he was employed to make a survey of the town of Hartford into lots, under the direction of Benajah Strong and Israel Gillett, a committee of that town. At that time he held the office of county surveyor of Cumberland County, by the appointment of the Governor and Council of Vermont. April 10, 1772, he was commissioned a justice...

Read More

Biography of Abel Curtis

In the abundance of able men that adorned the first twenty-five years of the history of the town, there is no more brilliant name than that of Abel Curtis. He was a son of Simeon Curtis and came with his father from Lebanon, Conn., where he was born June 13, 1755. The son graduated from Dartmouth College in the class of 1776, being the first graduate from this town, one year earlier than the Rev. Asa Burton. Abel Curtis is first mentioned in connection with town affairs in November, 1778, when he was chosen delegate to the Cornish convention of December following, in company with Peter Olcott and Nathaniel Brown. From this time until his death in 1783, a period full of important events shaping the future of state and country, he was prominent in all the transactions of the town, representative for three years in the legislature; serving on many committees; delegate to Congress in 1782, with Ira Allen and Jonas Fay; assistant judge of the county court in 1782; delegate to the Charlestown convention of January, 1781, sitting at Windsor, by the joint action of which with the legislature of Vermont, the second union of New Hampshire towns was effected on the 22nd of February, following; delegate to the Thetford convention of June 1782, by which he was commissioned agent of the towns of Hartford, Norwich, Bradford,...

Read More

Biography of Prof. George Bush

George Bush, one of the most eminent Biblical scholars and Orientalists of his time in America, was born in Norwich, Vt., June 12, 1796, a son of John and Abigal (Marvin) Bush, and grandson of Capt. Timothy Bush. The boyhood of George Bush was mostly passed in Hanover, New Hampshire, whither his father removed when he was quite young. The son gave early indications of superior intelligence. His eldest sister says “he had a ravishing love of books from her first remembrance of him.” He frequented the College library at Hanover and would bring home ponderous volumes, almost as large as he could carry. Old residents remember him riding to mill on horseback with his face hidden in the pages of an open book that he held before him. At the age of nineteen he entered Dartmouth College, graduating in 1818 with the valedictory and the highest honors of his class, which was of more than average ability, containing among others such scholars as Professor William Chamberlain of Dartmouth College, and the late Professor Thomas C. Upham of Bowdoin College. During a part of his college course, Mr. Bush was a private tutor in the family of Honorable Mills Olcott, and there probably was formed an intimate friendship between himself and Rufus Choate of the class of 1819. The two young men chummed together during the college course, and...

Read More

History of the Merchants of Norwich VT

Peter Olcott had a store near his residence at the Center, in the time of the Revolutionary War. Abel Curtis was for a time associated with him in this business. Stephen Burton, eldest son of Elisha Burton and a graduate of Dartmouth College in 1790, was probably the first to open trade at Norwich Plain, prior to the year 1800. Ichabod Marshall of Hanover, also a Dartmouth graduate in 1790, is understood as having been engaged in mercantile business in Norwich (possibly in partnership with Stephen Burton) for several years. Both these young men emigrated to the West early...

Read More

Migration of Families out of Norwich VT

At the first enumeration of the inhabitants of eastern Vermont, as made by the authority of New York in 1771, Norwich was found to be the most populous of all the towns of Windsor County, having forty families and 206 inhabitants. Windsor followed with 203, and Hartford was third with 190. The aggregate population of the county (ten towns reported) was then but 1,205, mostly confined to the first and second tiers of towns west of the Connecticut River. Twenty years later, in 1791, Hartland led all the towns of the county with 1,652 inhabitants, Woodstock and Windsor coming next with 1,605 and 1,542 respectively. Exceptional causes made the little town of Guilford (now numbering scarcely more than one thousand inhabitants), till after the year 1800, the most populous town in the state. In Norwich, the great falling off in the size of families in recent years is seen in the fact, that in the year 1800, the number of children of school age was 604, out of a total population of 1,486, while in 1880 with a nearly equal population (1,471) it was but 390. In the removal of large numbers of the native-born inhabitants by emigration, we must find the principal cause of the decline of our rural population. Preeminently is this true of Norwich. The outflow of people began very early and now for more than...

Read More

History of Norwich Vermont Education

From the town records it appears that the first attempt to divide the town into school districts, was at a town meeting held November 19, 1782, when John Slafter, Elijah Brownson, Ithamar Bartlett, Joseph Loveland, Paul Bingham, Joseph Hatch, Daniel Baldwin, Abel Wilder and Samuel Brown, Jr., were made a committee for that purpose. Soon thereafter the committee reported that they “could effect nothing on the business of their appointment,” and were discharged. No further move in town meeting towards districting the town for school purposes appears to have been made until March 30, 1785, when, on petition of...

Read More

Norwich Vermont in the Revolutionary War

The sources of information in regard to the part taken by the town in the Revolutionary struggle are few and scanty. The earliest allusion in the town records to this important epoch of the country’s history is found in the election of a Committee of Safety at the annual town meeting, March 11, 1777. This committee was five in number: Deacon Joseph Smalley, Samuel Hutchinson, John Hatch, Captain Hezekiah Johnson and John Hopson. There is much reason to believe, however, that this was not the first Committee of Safety that acted for the town; but was a new committee selected to conform to a recommendation made to the towns in Cumberland and Gloucester Counties by the Convention at Westminster which declared the independence of Vermont the preceding January. 1Governor and Council, Vol. I, p. 47. It is pretty certain that a company of militia was organized in Norwich as early as the year 1774 or 1775. Of this company Peter Olcott was chosen Captain and Thomas Murdock, Ensign, doubtless by the votes of the men enrolled in the same. The company was probably a purely voluntary organization of patriotic young men, in Colonel Seth Warner‘s regiment of Rangers in 1775, in the continental service. Colonel Timothy Bedell, of Haverhill, N. H., also raised a regiment the same year for service in Canada. Fresh regiments were enlisted early in the...

Read More

Church History of Norwich Vermont

The great achievement of the first generation of Norwich settlers was the building of a meeting house. More than any other event of the time, with the possible exception of the accomplishment of the national independence, this was an undertaking that enlisted the energies and taxed the resources of our forefathers. The building of a meeting house in a New England frontier settlement a century ago was regarded a matter of public concern, to be supported by the whole community without regard to sect or party, like the opening of roads or any other public charge. In less than ten years from the time the first clearing was made in Norwich, the preliminary steps were taken to provide a meeting house to be used for the accommodation of the whole people in the public worship of God. The question of the location of this building was sharply agitated, re-resulting in a keen competition between different sections of the town for the coveted distinction, inasmuch as the location of the house was supposed to fix the site of a possible future village where much of the business of the town would be transacted. When it became apparent that no agreement could be reached, a locating committee of three men from out of town was chosen and summoned upon the ground to decide where the meeting house should stand. The formal...

Read More

History of the Congregational Church of Norwich Vermont

The Congregational Church of Norwich is among the oldest of the Congregational churches of Vermont, only four others having preceded it in the date of their organization, viz.: those of Bennington, Newbury, Westminster, and Windsor. It was the earliest and for many years the only ecclesiastical organization in town. Some of the first settlers had been members of this church in Connecticut before settling here. These would naturally associate themselves for public worship, and as early as June, 1770, by the aid, it is said, of Reverend Peter Powers, the pioneer minister of Newbury, the nucleus of a church...

Read More

Norwich Vermont in the Controversy with New York

The contest with New York in regard to land titles was the first of a series of political commotions that arose to disquiet and vex the settlers on the New Hampshire Grants, to turn their thoughts and energies away from the improvement of their little properties, and check their growing prosperity. In this contest the inhabitants of the upper valley of the Connecticut in general took no active part. They all held their lands under New Hampshire Grants, and as New York never re-granted the same lands to other parties, or attempted to dispossess them or molest them in any manner in the quiet enjoyment thereof, they had personally no cause for controversy with the authorities of that province. The town records of Norwich contain no allusion to the vexed questions that occupy so large a space in contemporary history on the west of the Green Mountains, nor do the words “New York” once occur on these records, except in conveyances of land from one person to another, where the property is described as lying in the “Province of New York.” The authority and jurisdiction of New York were for the most part quietly ignored. No active partisans of her claims are known to have resided in town, nor did the town “in apprehension of future loss of their landed property,” procure at a heavy expense a new charter...

Read More

First Settlements in Norwich Vermont

Having glanced thus briefly at the action of the Norwich proprietors in opening a way to reach their new township in the wilderness, and in dividing up a portion of its surface into lots suitable to become the homesteads of future settlers, let us pause a moment and see what had meantime been done in the work of actual settlement. I am indebted to Rev. Edmund F. Slafter of Boston for an interesting account of what was unquestionably the first attempt at settlement made within the limits of the town. I quote from the Slafter Memorial: “Samuel Slafter [of Mansfield, Connecticut], the father of John Slafter, being an original proprietor, and being at the first meeting chosen treasurer of the corporation, took a deep interest in the settlement of the town. At his suggestion, his son John made a journey through the forests of New Hampshire in 1762, to examine the territory and report upon the advantages it might offer as a place of settlement. He found it pleasantly situated on the western banks of the Connecticut, with a good soil, but for the most part of an uneven, hilly surface. He reported it well watered, not only by the Connecticut but by several small, clear streams, and by one more important one called the Ompompanoosuc, an Indian name signifying ‘the place of very white stones’ whose waters emptied...

Read More

Norwich Vermont an Independent Township

In America the germ of political organization is the Township, older than the County, older than the State. In New England we find towns established as independent communities, endowed with distinctive rights and privileges, as early as the middle of the seventeenth century. It is to these town governments that we must look for the foundation of republican liberty, to the town meeting, where all citizens meet on a plane of equality to choose their local officers and manage their local affairs. Here is the firm basis upon which all free institutions can rest. Ralph Waldo Emerson once proposed that the records of a New England town should be printed and presented to the governments of Europe, to the English nation as a thank-offering and as a certificate of the progress of the Saxon race; to the continental nations as a lesson of humanity and love. De Tocqueville said that the government of a New England township was the best specimen of a pure democracy that the world has ever seen. The town charters granted by New Hampshire conferred upon the inhabitants of each township, from its first organization, the right of self-government in town meeting, by the election of town officers and general ejection of town affairs. Such, also, had long been the practice in Connecticut, from whence a large proportion of all the early settlers had immigrated...

Read More


Free Genealogy Archives

It takes a village to grow a family tree!
Genealogy Update - Keeping you up-to-date!
101 Best Websites 2016

Pin It on Pinterest